Sunday, August 31, 2008

I've still got goose bumps...


My soul-sista, Tara Sloan, wrote a post today that was an absolute slam dunk. I am still coming down off of a high from reading it. I'm telling you, if you are limited on reading, skip my blog today and tomorrow and just go read her post about Clinton/Palin. I'm serious as a heart attack when I tell you, it's ANOINTED. And when you have time, if you haven't already read it, come back and read my post from yesterday, on the same subject!

Now you know why I say that woman and I eat out of the same box of Cheerios although I'm in Florida and she's in Illinois, we are abso-freakin'-lutely two peas in a pod, and might as well be joined at the hip. Now you know why we instantly became bff's when we met on that fateful day, over 10 years ago now. :-)

By the way, for any of you still reading this post who haven't clicked over to Tara's, we had a great day at church today. For a holiday weekend, attendance wasn't too bad and I was pleasantly surprised to have a full choir! Most of all, God's presence was really there in worship, Larry brought an awesome Word, and we had a good altar time. Just want to give you this quote from my husband's message today that was the "stand out" takeaway for me personally today:

"You are headed in the direction of your most dominating thought."

Powerful, huh? Here are some other bullet points from today's message:

  • We talk ourselves into valleys many times. We have to keep a mountaintop perspective even when in the valley. (hhhmmm...was he preachin' to his wife today, or WHAT? Gotta love that man.)

  • At the same time, we do have to survey our challenges and not deny our present reality. In other words, no matter how many times you name it/claim it or whatever, you're in the situation you're in...but God CAN do a miracle!

  • God wants us to stimulate our courage. We've got to get it active, get it going.

  • Some people have a "grasshopper complex"

  • You've got to hop in the right direction.

  • Little thinkers make big stinkers.

  • All the people who said, "we can't conquer Caanan", DIDN'T!

  • There are 9,000 promises that God has made to us in His Word! What are we doing with them?

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Glass ceiling not fully shattering anytime soon


By now everybody is bouncing back from the shock of Sarah Palin being chosen as the Republican VP nominee. Relax. This post is not about who I'm voting for...or not. I know I have many readers on both sides of the aisle, and some of you no where near either aisle. (lol) I don't share from the pulpit or my blog who I think people should vote for - it's not appropriate, not to mention it's technically illegal! Quite honestly you just might be surprised at times were you to know how I vote!

It might shock some of you to know that I'm an admirer of BOTH Hillary Clinton AND Sarah Palin. (Okay, pick yourselves up off the floor...) I know what you're thinking. These two women believe COMPLETELY different things. You're right! I read a blog yesterday that said, "The only thing Sarah Palin and Hillary Clinton share in common is that they have the same kind of genitals." Well, perhaps. I actually think they'd probably find a little more common ground than that, but here's where I'm going with this...although I might not agree 100% or even 10% with what a person stands for (their values) I can look beyond that to see the admirable qualities in a person. Just because I admire someone doesn't mean I'd vote for them.

I know she's not in the race anymore this year, but like her or not, you have to admit, Hillary Clinton is a sharp lady. She's a worker to the core -- you might not agree with everything she stands for, or even anything she stands for, but the fact is, she'll work to her dying day for what she believes in and with passion, and never give up. She embodies perseverance. I admire that in a person. I haven't known as much about Palin for very long, she has simply not been as prominent as Clinton. However I see many qualities in her that are admirable as well -- an equal passion for what she believes in, standing against corruption, cutting unnecessary spending, being willing to brave the storm that inevitably comes into one's life by not caving in to the "good old boy network". So now that I've told you that I admire things about both women, what the heck IS this post really about?

This post is about the questions people ask women that they would NEVER ask men. As soon as Palin was chosen as the VP pick, people rose up to question whether she should take this job, having 5 kids, one of them being a newborn baby. No kidding, I actually heard one pundit ask if she would have to bring the baby to the White House for meetings to nurse him, and if people thought that should be allowed!! I had to double over laughing on that one. (And yes, I breastfed my kids, and yes, I think it's a great thing.) It was my brilliant husband who shook his head at the stupid commenter as well and said, "you idiot, by the time she gets to the White House for meetings, if indeed she is elected VP, the baby will be at the age where he would be weaned before she's even sworn in." (I love my husband!)

Here's my thought...the glass ceiling is far from being shattered until we start asking MEN the same questions we ask women.

Do you think anyone in 21 years has ever asked my husband, "Pastor Shrodes, how do you manage to pastor the church while still having three kids in your home?"

Do you think in 21 years anyone has ever asked my husband, "Pastor Shrodes, how do you get everything done? How do you balance it all?"

Do you think in 21 years of pastoring, my husband has ever sat in an interview with a pulpit committee and heard, "Now Pastor Shrodes, you are after all, a husband and father. Do you think with that as a factor that you will be able to effectively do this job if indeed you are elected the pastor of this church?"

No, no, no. They have asked Pastor Shrodes, alright, but it's been THE WRONG Pastor Shrodes! LOL

John McCain has SEVEN (count 'em, 7!) kids and one still in the home. She was standing beside Cindy McCain yesterday at the VP announcement. Barack Obama still has two young daughters in the home. They were absolutely adorable the other night, talking into the microphone at the DNC, saying, "I love you, Daddy!" Why has nobody asked McCain how he will manage his large family, including his last child still in the home and do the job? Why hasn't anybody asked Obama how he will handle juggling the presidency and his two little girls at the same time? I realize they wouldn't ask Biden because to my knowledge, he has no kids in the home, so it's not applicable. Before you say, "well people haven't asked because their mothers are the ones raising them," I don't believe that. Both McCain and Obama seem like VERY involved fathers to me, from everything I've observed. (There you go, something I admire about both! But I can only vote for one.)

We will have shattered the glass ceiling when people are asking men the same questions they ask us.

Some of you might be ready to rattle off at your keyboard and comment or e-mail me with... "are you saying being a wife and mother aren't important?" and "don't you know motherhood is a high calling from God?" and "don't you believe in putting your kids before your job?" Answer to questions: no , yes, and yes.

I simply believe that all the same applies to my husband. Being a husband and father is important, isn't it? Being a husband and father is a high calling from God, isn't it? Being a husband and father comes before your job, doesn't it? So why aren't people asking the man the same questions?

It's obvious from some of the reading I've been doing that Todd Palin believes the way that my husband and quite a number of husbands today believe: parenting wasn't designed by God to be a one person responsibility. Single parenting is hard and most people aren't doing it by choice. God gave children a father and a mother for a reason. My husband and I believe God has given us our home and our children to lead as a team - together.

It's about a partnership. It's evident both Clinton and Palin have husbands who are partners. This is another thing I admire about both women, and something, ironically I have heard both criticized about!

Some of these questions about Palin's fitness to lead at this time come from women who strongly supported Hillary. Shame! Shame! Shame on you women!!! It's as if you forgot that Hillary ever had a child! She might be an empty nester now, but remember, she was raising Chelsea the majority of the years she was in the White House. And by all appearances it seems she and Bill raised her equally together. With all the bad you might have to say about the woman, give her this - she's a darn good mother who together with her husband raised a fine young lady. At least if you are going to criticize Sarah Palin, do it concerning her policies, not about whether she's going to nurse the baby or not, or whether she'll be able to keep the laundry done and still work on America's energy crisis. How ridiculous!!!

Ladies, ladies, ladies...let's not hold our sisters back or down by this type of rhetoric, whether we agree with their policies or not. Whether you are a Palin supporter or not, don't tear down what so many of our sisters -- and thankfully many of our right thinking and compassionate brothers --before us have worked so long and hard for.

No matter who gets elected this November, please keep in mind, the glass ceiling is not shattered until we stop asking women certain questions, or decide to ask men the same ones.

[Deanna...stepping away from soapbox now...gee, that felt good to get all that out. I feel better now. I can hear Leanne clapping all the way from Wisconsin and Tara all the way from Illinois! And yeah, I hear Patrick and Craig clapping too...gotta love those supportive men...lol]

Pain


Many of us spend our whole lives running from feeling with the mistaken belief that you cannot bear the pain. But you have already borne the pain. What you have not done is feel all you are beyond that pain. - Kahlil Gibran

Friday, August 29, 2008

Yep, yep, Lord...that's me!


"Oh, the joys of those who are kind to the poor! The Lord rescues them when they are in trouble." Psalm 41:1 (NLT)

On Sunday, the Lord led me to read Psalm 41 for some reason. I mean, I literally woke up at 6 am, knowing I had to turn there. I did and the first verse got my attention. I got excited! I said, "yep, yep Lord, that's me! So I know you are going to rescue me! You specifically promised it in Your Word! Yippee!! I'm fixing to get rescued!"

I've always been kind to the poor. Always. My whole life. I can say that with all confidence...I have never looked down upon anyone that is poor -- EVER. If I can possibly help in some way, I do...sometimes to my husband's chagrin.

It's not that Larry isn't compassionate. It's just that he gets upset with me at times for giving things out the window to people when we are in the car. He thinks they will just throw it away or squander it. I have given Hillsong worship CD's to prostitutes on the street. He thinks they will just throw them in a dumpster. But I don't care even if they do. I get joy and hope just by giving. When in the car with the kids (without Larry) I've sometimes handed a few dollars out the window to a homeless person holding a sign, and I usually say to the kids, "keep this between us...don't tell your Dad." (lol) Of course I know they are always going to tell him...we don't really keep secrets, but I know I'm going to get a lecture when I get home.

My view of it is -- if I feel led of the spirit to give something, I got a blessing from it no matter anyone else does with it! When the kids tattletale and Larry gives me a lecture I just tell him I gave it out of my birthday money and I can do whatever I want with my birthday money and don't have to get him to agree on it. He shakes his head at me and walks away frustrated just like he has often been with me in the last 21 years. (SMILE) So when I read Psalm 41 on Sunday I got excited. Because it says that the Lord rescues people who are kind to the poor. So I know that means I'm DEFINITELY in line to get rescued by God!

Yesterday we had an interesting experience. We went to video some stuff for church and we did it right after lunch. Larry ate his sandwich but not his greek salad so he had it boxed to take home. We were coming out of the place and walking down the street and a man saw Larry's box and walked right up and said he was hungry, and asked if could he have what was in the box. Larry said, "sure" and handed it to him. The man said, "sir, do you have a fork?" and Larry said, "I'm sorry, I don't." I thought the man was just going to pick up the salad and eat it with his hands, but instead he walked across the street to a garbage can and dug down in there and pulled a dirty plastic fork out. I was sick at the thought. Just as he was getting ready to stab it into the salad, I said, "Sir! Please DO NOT do that. I will get you a fork somehow."

We were already down the street from where we ate but I went into a place we were standing in front of and asked for a fork. The server I spoke to said, "um, it'll cost you $5." I said, "whatever. I'll pay for it." Then he followed it up with, "alright, I'm just kidding." He not only gave me a fork but a napkin to go with it. I was so glad to be able to give it to the man. It would have made me heartsick to see him eat with that fork from the dumpster. Yes, I know he probably does it all the time, but this was one day he didn't have to. I felt like the person in the famous poem who rescued one starfish. They were asked, "why are you doing that when there are countless others that you can't possibly help?" The person responded that for that one it made a difference.

The man stood there while we shot the video. Larry was talking and when we finished taping the man said, "do you know who you sound just like? You sound just like the preacher at Relevant Church!" I said, "oh, that's interesting, we happen to know the pastor there..." and he said, "Really?" and I said, "yes, do you go there?" and he said, "yes I do." I said, "awesome, please keep going. It's a great church."

I was happy to find out, Relevant ministers to more than just 20 and 30 somethings, but just like us they also reach out to the poor.

We should always be kind to the poor even if there's nothing extra in it for us, but isn't it interesting that God has promises in His Word specifically for those who are kind to the poor?

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Ahhhh...the flip side of being a hard worker

"Your salvation requires you to turn back to me and stop your silly efforts to save yourselves.Your strength will come from settling down in complete dependence on me—The very thing you've been unwilling to do. Isaiah 30:17 (The Message)



It seems that most weeks, the Lord sends people to my husband and I to talk to and encourage who are struggling, many of them in the ministry. We never mind it even when we are struggling ourselves, because first --we do care about people, especially those who are walking this road that we are walking. And second, it helps us in getting our mind off of our own problems for a while!


Recently Larry was encouraging someone who was having many hard times and the frustrating thing for Larry was that no matter what he suggested, this man was not willing to budge in doing anything at all to help his problems. If Larry said, "why don't you try getting up fifteen minutes earlier," the person would respond with, "wow, that would be a real challenge...I really don't want to lose any sleep..." or if he said, "why don't you start studying a few evenings a week?" the person would respond, "well, I wouldn't be able to watch my TV shows," or something to this effect. Frustrating!!!

At times you try to help someone and it seems they are unwilling to do ANYTHING that it takes, let alone WHATEVER it takes! I have little patience for that.

The Bible tells us to avoid all extremes. Just like this man my husband was trying to help was extreme, so I err on the side of being the opposite extreme. My tendency is to try to work myself out of anything. Our friend Randy has often said, "If you want something to get done, just tell Deanna it can't be done and it quickly will be because she'll never let you get away with saying that about her!" Whereas the man who called my husband doesn't want to lift a finger to do anything to help his problem, my struggle is to stop trusting in my own abilities to save me all the time. Even if I lack in skill in an area, I try to make up for it in hard work. This can be an admirable quality, however taken to extreme, it causes a problem. Take it from me, as I've been struggling for 42 years now with it. My issue is learning to trust 100% in God to save the day in the long run, no matter how hard I might be working.

I have always believed that if you work hard and long enough you can accomplish anything. You know, that "American Dream" people talk about. The truth is, over time, God has blessed so many of my endeavors, especially as I have invested myself in the things He cares about most. But sometimes, like now, I have to remember to continue to do my best, but not depend upon what I do as the answer. It's all about complete dependence on His abilities to bring the breakthrough, not mine. One reason I am trying to learn this completely and do it quickly is because I don't want a long storm! So c'mon God...my work isn't going to solve this no matter what I do or how well I do it. So just "do your thing" as only you can...and, um...preferably in the next day or two? (SMILE)

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Youngest "Fusionite" at last week's service


I couldn't resist pulling out my camera from my purse and taking this last Wednesday night...


Michele had Marcus in service because he fell asleep before Royal Rangers and so here he slept during our service, underneath one of the altar cloths.

I definitely believe in "raising them on the pew"! You're a great Mom, Michele. Keep your chin up and keep going!

"Do not be weary in well doing, for at the proper time you shall reap a harvest if you faint not." Galatians 6:9

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Jordan's new career (maybe!)


We went today to have Jordan's senior portraits done at Thompson Studios in Tampa. It went fantastic! The way they do it there you see the proofs right after taking the pictures and order everything the same day. So we will have the photos within about four weeks. It's the same place Dustin's photos were done and we have a special photo of both boys that was taken that will soon go up on our wall. It's going to look spectacular!

Well, get this...

Jordan was such a natural in front of the camera and he looked so awesome. I feel that way of course as his Momma, but today the owner of the studio said, "I honestly don't say this to many people nor do I make any kickback on this, but this guy is really a natural and honestly better than many of the pros I work with. You need to take his proof's down to such and such agency and see if he can get some work." (He was SERIOUS.) Right there on the spot he gave me a referral to three agencies he works with and said, "you will not have to invest ANY money in classes, or pay these people anything...this is not a scam...it's not "modeling school" nor are they going to ask you for any money. These are real agencies that will be the ones hiring you not the other way around!" Then he pointed to a kid's picture that he referred who is now modeling for Abercrombie and another guy who paid his entire college education on ONE JOB. Seriously. Can you believe that? I have to be honest it was hard for me to believe but he said, "I'm not kidding, I think he's a real natural and you need to at least think about pursuing this, especially since he seems to be a young man with a good head on his shoulders that could handle it..."

Jordan is almost 18, it's not like he would be a child going into this if it worked out. I don't know what will happen as a result but the photographer recommended we make an appointment with all three agencies and take his proofs from today and present to them. He said he was relatively sure Jordan could get "catalog work." Is that amazing or what?

Once we get his photos I will show you some of his "work" today (GRIN) and I think you might be amazed too!

In other news, it was a typical Tuesday for me cramming in as much work as possible as it's my most productive day. I got about four projects for church done and then did our laundry and Bobby's laundry. He dropped it off yesterday in desperation. Larry says, "Deanna, why do you agree to do stuff like that?" Can't help it, these are my "kids" - (not just my natural ones, my spiritual ones too that Jesus has entrusted me with to 'raise up'.) I know, I know, you might think as my husband does, "how will they be raised up if they can't do their own laundry?" (SMILE) Well, the poor boy had school AND work today. When was he going to do it? I just had work and did the laundry in between times. :-)

We're winding down for the night and I'm getting my jammies on and watching the DNC. I'll probably fall asleep watching the speeches...morning comes so early in my house.

Sweet sleep to all...

Monday, August 25, 2008

Going and going and going...



Thoughts from today:


I had an incredibly busy day ~making breakfast...
getting the kids off to school (back into the routine)...
reading Streams and my Bible...
getting to work...
busting through a few Unstoppable initiatives quickly with Cathy...
Going to a sectional credential meeting...
heading to staff lunch where we had a meeting about our upcoming friends day...
rushing home for another appointment...
and then tonight catching up on all the work I missed today by being in the sectional and staff meeting. I had to get at least 3-4 projects on my weekly list done or tomorrow would be just a horrible pile up.
I have Jordan's senior portrait appointments tomorrow...can't risk having a pile up of work...gotta keep it moving...

Ahhhhhh...finally time to take my contacts out, get my glasses on...put my feet up and watch some TV with Teeb.

I'm tired.

Didn't blog last night, just too wasted, but from a real good day. In a nutshell:

  • Real good service Sunday morning. Killer choir song...
  • Cooked lunch
  • Took power nap
  • Put finishing touches on house for leadership meeting
  • Had great leadership meeting...planned next friends day!

Ordered our tickets for upcoming Africa missions trip! (yes!!!)

Remember the other day I was giving the insights from the life of Ezekiel? Well one thing you note about his story is that even when circumstances were crushing in upon him - in fact - when he found out his wife was going to die the next day, he still just got up and went to work. Yep, he was a prophet. And he just kept prophesying. The brother got up and went into the prophetic office the next morning. Can any of you relate? I sure can.

Unstoppable is coming so fast it's unbelievable. Just trying to put the finishing touches on. Excited, but wanting more time...can't wait to see everyone, but also longing for a bit of rest. It's been a long month. I'm going to savor seeing those I love at Unstoppable.

Then I'm going to breathe.

At least for a few days.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

This present darkness


Many of my friends and acquaintances are going through difficult times, but I really learned the extent of it more when I wrote my "Wrecks" post earlier this week. I've gotten quite a bit of mail about it. All good - as far as people appreciating me writing it, but bad in that so many related to it at this present time.

If you would have asked me a month ago I was utterly convinced I was alone in the darkness I was feeling, but right now it seems we have more people that not who are living in a time of darkness in their lives. Remember the excellent book by Frank Peretti, This Present Darkness? I loved it. I am realizing I need to pull it out and read it again, for truly we are all in a time of spiritual warfare that I believe is unprecedented.

I am not glad that so many are walking through a time like this, but one thing I have realized is that we don't have to be in the dark alone. Jesus is with us, but we can also join our hearts together and stand with one another until everyone sees the light of day again. Everyone won't experience the breakthrough at the same time, but let's take the time to pray everybody across the finish line to victory. In particular, one person who e-mailed me about the "wreck" post who did not want to comment publicly with the details of their struggle is in serious need of a breakthrough by TOMORROW. Monday is a serious deadline for them. They need God to show up with a miracle in the next 24 hours. I can't tell you this person's name or circumstances but I am burdened for them and ask all of you reading this right now, will you just right now agree with me in prayer for this dear one in their "special unspoken" request? God will know who you're talking about...He's omniscient God...so just pray for "Deanna's e-mailer who needs a miracle by Monday." Thank you!

Here's something I read last night in my devotional from Streams in the Desert:

"The mighty God can make us stronger than our circumstances. He can bend them all to our good. In God's strength we can make them all pay tribute to our souls. We can even take hold of a black disappointment, break it open, and extract some jewel of grace. When God gives us wills like iron, we can drive through difficulties as the iron share cuts through the toughest soil. "I will make thee," and shall He not do it?" --Dr. Jowett

Friends, many of us are going through "black disappointment' as the author spoke of, but here is a verse I have stood on time and time again and want to remind all of you of today: I will give you the treasures of darkness, riches stored in secret places, so that you may know that I am the LORD, the God of Israel, who summons you by name. Isaiah 45:3

God showed me this truth years ago...there are certain things you can't get any other way but by going through the darkness. God's got something great for all of us who are struggling on the other side of this.

I am preparing right now to go to church this morning...I am always up way before the sun rises... quietly preparing myself for the day before my family ever wakes up...drinking my hazelnut coffee...talking to Jesus. I believe praise is a major key to breakthrough. This morning as I praise, I'm going for the breakthrough not only in my life, but in all of yours! I'm standing for all of us, in praise, in prayer. I will link arms with you and walk through the darkness until everybody has made it to light again. After we've done all to stand in this present darkness... we must stand.

Have a great morning at church, everyone! I may give Sunday night highlights, and then again may not depending on time. We have a leadership meeting at the house tonight and that always keeps me very busy...especially this week because Larry was in bed all week up until last night, nursing his injured leg, and I have done more than usual because I've been waiting on him and helping him with anything he needs me to bring him. He's doing 100% better but it's still sore.

Thanks for your continued prayer, my fellow wrecks! We are not alone. Not at all.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Does anybody else but me...


love it when school starts but feel guilty that you do?

think often about the disproportionate amount of housework you do?

wake up and then can't go back to sleep?

hate to pee in the middle of the night?

twitter on some days all the time, and absolutely none the next day?

really believe nobody else would do your job and pick up the slack if suddenly, you weren't there?

have a hatred for weeds?

clean the shower while you're in it?

love wearing just a t-shirt and underwear around the house?

wake up in the middle of the night with a horrible headache, take an Excedrine Migraine tablet and then be so "awake" from it that you never go back to sleep?

hate your phone?

think some Christians will end up following the anti-Christ because they are so biblically illiterate and driven by mysticism?

always go to the bathroom before you get on the scale?

have a love/hate relationship with e-mail?

get irritated when people crack their knuckles?

feel like the older you get the more filled with compassion you become?

get really queasy or pass out if people even talk about blood?

understand why some mothers in Texas do crazy stuff? When my kids have me at my wits end, I tell them, "THIS is why mothers in Texas do crazy stuff!!! Do you hear me?! You're lucky I don't go Texan on you right now!!"

get frustrated when you go to Super Wal-mart at typically busy times, see fifty bazillion cash registers and about four cashiers and lines out the wazoo. What the heck? Sam cannot be that broke. Hire more people.

think the school supply lists have gone OUT OF CONTROL? We DID NOT take all this stuff to school when we were kids. If you were in school in the 60's and 70's, did your Mom have to buy kleenex and Clorox wipes and paper towels to send in to school?! I'm just sayin' ...

love Panera bread coffee? (or Panera anything, really...)

think muffin tops are stupid?

Love to all,

Friday, August 22, 2008

Wrecks

I wrote this during the past few weeks, and was getting ready to post it and had second thoughts. I just couldn't bring myself to press the "publish" button. So I saved it to draft. I don't like to leave things unfinished, so a few days ago I was going to delete it but couldn't bring myself to do that either. I thought it over, prayed it over and have come to the conclusion it really might help somebody. On the other hand, it could make some people never read again. But after thinking it through it's a risk I'm going to take. I think it's important to note that I've made major strides forward since writing this. Although my circumstances haven't changed, I have. I am personally moving forward...through several sources of help ~ the greatest one being Jesus and His great love, and some of His followers who are particularly compassionate. Day by day, my strength and hope have started to return. I post this here to help somebody who might still be stuck. If anything said here gets you unstuck, my goal will be accomplished. This is the "special post" I mentioned yesterday. It's special because I may never post something like it again. Here we go...

"If your Bible is falling apart, you probably aren't!"

That's what I've often heard.

Well, mine is falling apart. For a while now my main reading and preaching Bible (a leatherbound NLT) has been absolutely falling apart.

Sometimes the pages flutter to the floor when I'm preaching. From I Corinthians to Revelation, it just consists of loose papers that fall out anytime I open it. It's sort of a pain to deal with but it's the Bible I like to read most or minister with and just haven't gotten around to replacing it.

Confession...

it's falling apart but I feel like I am too.

I'm a lover of the Word...love to read it, love to teach it, and try to live it. But even so, sometimes, like now...I feel like a wreck.

Does anyone else who is also actually in God's word feel that way? I've decided to dare to find out. Because I feel so alone.

I'm not a wreck because of sin or a moral failure. In a twisted way, I wish it were that easy. Sometimes I find myself in such a vexatious state of despair I think, "If it were a sin or moral lapse, it would be easier to fix! I'd just "ask, believe, confess"! I'd do the Christian ABC's and I'd be done with this. I'd "admit it, quit it and forget it!" Confession and repentance seem like a piece of cake compared to depression. Most people who have problems and come to me for help aren't reading their Bibles or praying. What an easy fix! I just say, "get into the Word and prayer." They do, in the majority of cases, things get better. Because anybody who is not in the Word or prayer is going to have issues. And when you fix that everything improves.

But honestly, there are times my head is into the Word, but I'm still feeling hopeless. I put the Word in but it leaks out so fast. There are times I get up to minister and I think, "what in the world do I have to give these people?" Well, that's a stupid statement to make while I'm holding a Bible...of course I have the good news of the gospel to share with them. But what I mean is, even though I have prayed and sought the Lord more than ever, I am still struggling. I think of all the times I've told people, "just praise your way to a miracle!" I believe that, and it's worked for me many times. I still believe that. Right now though, I just feel flat.

Here's what I am finding as I study this. There have been a lot of passionate God followers who were history makers that were a wreck at times. People throughout scripture such as David, Moses, Jeremiah, Elijah, and Ezekiel, were wrecks, just to name a very few. I've been especially drawn to Ezekiel in the past, and now today I find myself looking at his story again . His wife died and he was not allowed to mourn her loss. He had to shave his head, and lay on his side for an entire year. Then when he was done and thought that craziness was over, he had to do it for 40 more days. His food and water intake were greatly restricted and God made him cook what food he was allowed to eat over a pile of human poop. I'm serious. It's in Ezekiel 4 & 5. One of Weight Watcher's slogan's is, "Diets are Mean!" I need to tell them they don't know what a mean diet is until they've read Ezekiel. Being limited to 20 points a day is NOTHING, compared to the insane stuff the man had to deal with.

Nothing that was asked of Ezekiel seemed to be too hard and he plodded on...until the poop thing. He was so upset about the human poop that when he petitioned God, He relented and said, "okay, you can cook it over cow poop. Wow, what a consolation. Ezekiel trembled and shuddered while he ate in awful pain. I would too if I had just cooked my food over poop. I really believe Ezekiel should have been mad at Job for stealing all the attention! In studying the book of Ezekiel, I am finding the theme to be that it's not so much about our circumstances getting better as it is about God making us better as people. It's about God doing something in me internally even when externally my situation seems hopeless.

Honestly if you look at Ezekiel's situation, it didn't get better, at least until chapter 37, and let's be real...that took forever. And the kicker is that God told him in the beginning that the people were not going to straighten out and listen, but that he would still be held accountable for preaching to them! What the heck??! Why does God do that? It's still happening today. God purposely sends ministers to people all the time that He knows in advance won't listen! Could it be that He sends His messenger for their sake rather than for the sake of others? Ezekiel obeyed and was faithful to this call. People said he was out of his mind. Honestly, anybody who is abandoned to God and His will and fully obeys Him will be considered crazy at times, I'm convinced of that.

I could go on forever about Godly people who were wrecks at times in the Bible. For some reason everybody has accepted that there were wrecks in the Bible but nobody today wants to admit that they are a wreck. You fear people figuring it out. What if they don't respect you? They might not want you to pastor them. People might not invite you to speak to them anymore. At the very least they might think you are unspiritual. Why can't you just plead the blood and snap out of it? This is the fear you have when you are a a wreck. What if somebody realizes I really don't have all the answers, and am only sure of a very few things in life?

"Amazing grace how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me..."

I sometimes sing, "that saved a wreck like me." Only some days I wonder, "if I'm saved, why do I still feel like this?

Could it be that a lot of spiritual people who love Jesus, read His Word, and pray are wrecks at times but we just don't know it? Could that be why it's hard to believe this phenomenon exists?

I have "submitted myself therefore to God, and resisted the devil so He will flee..."

I have "cast down every imagination and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God..."

And yes, I have "called the things that are not as though they were."

I have bound...I have loosed...I have spoken to it...I have stood on it...

I lay in bed with the light streaming in my windows, not wanting to get up, surrounded by the feeling of darkness and say...

"you do not feel sucky..
in Jesus
name, you do not, you do not, you do not, feel sucky..."

I have named it and claimed it.

I have blabbed it and grabbed it.

And still I feel sucky.

A few people have quoted, "this too shall pass" to me. My husband says that all the time. And I know it's straight out of the Bible. But frankly one of my secret fears has been that it won't pass. As much as I try to quell that fear it pops back up again after I have beaten it into submission and taken it captive.

Here's some interesting things I've found in my quest the past few weeks to study wrecks :

The famous reformer and preacher, Martin Luther, who wrote the song, "A Mighty Fortress is Our God", was a wreck at times. His biographer writes that he was "prone to recurrent periods of depression" and that Luther himself wrote, "The content of my depression was always the same -- the loss of faith that God is good and that he is good to me." During one of his severe period of depression, he wrote this: "for more than a week I was close to the gates of death and hell. I trembled in all my members. Christ was wholly lost."

Charles Spurgeon struggled so severely with depression that he had to take a break and step down from his pulpit for two to three months out of every year. In 1866 he had the courage to confess his struggle to his congregation. He said, "I am the subject of depressions of spirit so fearful that I hope none of you ever get to such extremes of wretchedness as I go through." He described the period of depression as "every mental and spiritual labor had to be carried on under protest of spirit."

Sounds like these guys had some sucky days.

They changed the world as we know it.

I am not alone.

There's hope for me.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

The Hilton Garden Inn totally rocks!


Okay, I am not getting paid nor am I getting any kickback by saying any of the following so please don't see it as a sales pitch. This truly comes from my heart.


I am amazed by the Hilton Garden Inn Tampa North, their entire staff, and in particular, two women who work in sales -- Joyce Johnson and Sarah Garcia. I want to recommend strongly to all of my readers -- if you are ever coming to the Tampa area and need a hotel, please consider staying at this hotel if at all possible. You will not regret it, I promise! You'll love the beautiful clean rooms, the restaurant, the very comfortable lobby where you can visit with friends, the pool, the jacuzzi, and you will be impressed by the helpfulness of their staff, I guarantee it.

This is the hotel where we hold the Unstoppable Conference. Last year they were awesome to work with, and we could not have possibly had a better experience. This year I was nervous about quite a few things, not on their part, but on mine. The conference has been hit hard by the economy and many other factors. Quite honestly, no "miracle" came to turn around all of those circumstances, even as much as I prayed about it. I had a few sleepless night, and moments of fear about meeting with the sales reps to talk about final things concerning our contract.

Last week, the miracle I prayed for did indeed happen, though our conference circumstances didn't change, God worked it out in other ways. I spoke to Sarah Garcia and she and Joyce Johnson ended up being the miracle God sent! These ladies put me at ease immediately and totally worked with me in the situation to do whatever it took to make our event work. Today was my final meeting with them about all of the details for the conference and what could have been a very difficult meeting for me was absolutely one of the most pleasant afternoons I have EVER had!! Joyce, Sarah, and the Hilton are absolutely bending over backwards to do anything to accomodate us!!

I continue to stand amazed at Hilton's service, and their willingness to be flexible and make special exceptions when needed. They truly put the customer first. I am so incredibly grateful, and they will have my business in the future for anything we may need in the way of conferences and events. They are also the hotel where we put all of our guest speakers throughout the year. Without exception, all of our guest speakers have told us how much they enjoyed their stay at the Hilton Garden Inn North.

I just want to give them kudos and send any business their way that I possibly can because they have been agents of God in the way they have treated me. God still does miracles, and today he chose to do one through the them!

* This is not the "special post" I spoke of yesterday...it's coming up soon...not sure yet when I'm going to post it but hopefully the next few days when I get the courage! :-)

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The devil is scared to death
of us right now...

You won't beeelieve what I am getting ready to tell you. 

First let me set the stage. God is blessing so much on Wednesday nights. I am more excited about this than anything right now.  God is doing stuff that is OFF THE CHAIN!

I was especially excited about tonight's Fusion. I knew God was going to do something special. It was truly our best night ever of ministry. People were expectant! They are more on time than ever...cause they can't wait to get there! Worship went awesome, then prayer and then the Word. I preached tonight on the subject "Fused for Burden Bearing." (Based on the passage of scripture that says "Bear ye one another's burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ.") The main text was Galatians 6:1-5, although a lot of additional scripture was incorporated and some great illustrations to go with it as well as a song with multi media that went with the message. This was right before we got into our fusion groups (small groups of 10) for ministry. This is a time when each fusion group encourages and prays for one another.

A few minutes after getting into our groups, there was a great commotion in the sanctuary. A woman who was visiting, who is a local "minister" (and I use that term loosely) spoke up in Bill's fusion group and went on a 5-10 minute tirade (without coming up for air or letting anyone else talk/get a word in edgewise) and basically said that what I shared tonight were"philosophies" and that no one is called to bear another's burden, we are only called to get on our faces and fast and pray and receive whatever we need from God. She said Christians are not called to help each other, we just need to look to God. She said, "God has given me a message to preach here tonight."

 Bill (group leader) was respectful about it but said that wasn't right according to scripture, and that they needed to stay on track in encouraging one another and having prayer for one another in the group. If you only knew Bill...he is the kindest, most gentle man. If he gets upset with you, you probably REALLY deserve it! I've never known anyone more gracious. Well, she didn't receive his re-direction. She went off. Totally. Loudly! Again she wasn't coming up for air and was determined to take over the group and hold it hostage.  Later, Eddie and Debbie told me something to the effect that she went off trying to bring a message from Genesis to Revelation!  Bill kindly tried to redirect her, but she wouldn't have it.  He ran over to get me, at his wits end with her.

I came over and she went into telling me her ministry is that of an evangelist and that God had given her a message for the church and she was trying to give it but was being stifled.   I said, "the Word has already been preached tonight and we don't need you to preach. It's time now to encourage one another and pray one for another."

She was very offended and cut me off and her voice escalated even more (EVERYONE in the sanctuary could hear this loud and clear) and she was saying that she was not going to be stopped from giving this word. She said "God invited me to come here and say this tonight." I said, "Well I didn't invite you." And she said, "What? I'm an ordained minister for 44 years and you need to come under my authority." I said, "No actually, you need to come under mine. I've been placed by God as the co-pastor of this church and if you are going to participate in this group, while you are here you you are going to respect mine and Bill's authority."  She said, "no I won't! I'm under the authority of no man, or you. I am only under God!" I said, "well that's not going to work here." (She started shaking when I said that. She was so angry. Looking back I wish we had it on tape. It was surreal, you just had to be there.) 

She rebutted that no, no, no, she was going to get up and preach and I said, "you're mistaken about that. You need to get in order right now." She stood there and would not listen and kept going on very loudly where EVERYONE in the sanctuary could hear her.  So it was time to go to the next level.  I emphatically stated, "you're out of order!!  I'm sorry, but I am going to have to ask you need to leave now." She said, "you are immature! You don't understand the five fold ministry! I said, "Actually, I am operating in the five fold ministry right now.  I'm the pastor here." Believe it or not, she was so stubborn, she wasn't going to leave without help and yelled back at me to "grow up!" as we were escorting her out the door. Pastor Trinity had to  help me in literally escorting the lady out of the building!!!

Meanwhile as this loud confrontation was going on, those in the sanctuary had joined hands and were praying as she wasn't giving up without a fight! All the way while Pastor Trinity and I escorted her out of the building she is still loudly stating that I need to come under her authority...that she is older and has been ordained for 44 years...yada yada yada" and all this crazy stuff. As she is leaving out the other doors she shouts over her shoulder, "you have a lot of growing up to do, Deanna!" (are you laughing as hard as I am right now?) ** sigh ** And then her last word she shouted on the way out to her car was, "Shalom!" (What the heck?)
I went back in the sanctuary and the people were still holding hands and fervently interceding and praying. Then when they finished they said, "Pastor Deanna, where God is blessing, Satan's messing!" I said, "isn't that the truth!" Pastor T said, "get ready, because when an attack comes, it has a way of seriously uniting a church even more!"

We all agreed, it had been our best Fusion night yet, and the devil is seriously, seriously, seriously scared! The people were not deterred at all, in fact I think this fired them up more!! My leaders are PUMPED! The anointing has been flowing in an incredible way and it's only going to increase! Not only are"philosophies" not being preached, but the Word of God is going forth powerfully and people are being changed! The anointing is breaking the yoke of bondage! The enemy is so worried right now. 

Tonight as soon as I got home, I got a bunch of encouraging e-mails about the power of God moving in our church and what people see happening, and just saying to press on. Thanks everybody! I will share one email that I got from Aimee Nunez:

Hi Pastor Deanna,
I just wanted to drop you a few lines of encouragement. First let me start by saying the devil has been hard at work this week trying to wreck tonight’s service. Secondly I appreciate all the time you spend preparing the lessons and want you to know I receive my encouragement and strength from God first, but also from your teaching and your blogs. The lady who came tonight was right she was sent there to bring a message. Doesn’t the Bible say the devil always tries to imitate God? Well I am guessing that her spiritual gift is not discernment. Don’t be discouraged know that God is with you and that we will be praying for you. You can always tell when a break through is coming by the devils attempts to bring you down.

Aimee


Deanna back again:  I'm not upset in the least about this whole thing tonight, in fact I'm encouraged!!! It shows me how close to an incredible breakthrough we are! It shows me what a threat we are to the enemy! It shows me just how powerfully God is moving the mountains!!!! It shows me the greatness that is getting ready to be unleashed!!! And, Pastor T says, "and let's be real, now that it's over, it will also give us something to laugh about for a long, long time!'' 

So that was my night. How was yours? 

Wordle



This is the coolest thing...it will pull the most often used words from your blog, or you can make your own. Try it, you'll love it! Just click the above box and you will see my "Wordle" in a larger box. Hmmmm...could be addicting...

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Fay was a wimp


But I'm glad! The storm was...not even a storm. It was merely a threat to us, which did not materialize. think about that spiritually...how often does the devil threaten and scare us with impending storms and they don't ever manifest?

I realize some spiritual/physical/emotional/financial storms do happen. (I've been in one recently...and I'm still there...) But there are just as storms that we worry about that don't ever come to pass! And I've wrung my hands and stayed awake at night over many of them that I never needed to give any attention to and wasted a lot of my valuable energy. I'm learning that even in a bona-fide storm that really does occur, worrying doesn't help anyway. In fact it saps energy we need to get through. We can't just ignore the storm if it comes, but allowing fear to consume us is not the course of action needed.

This morning I got up, put dinner in the crock pot, made Savanna french toast and went to the store right away. We were out of bread and a few other things (it happens so quickly in our household) and I still thought the storm was on the way and didn't want us to be out of anything. I hurriedly went to Sweet Bay and got the items I needed.

I came home and started doing all my church work and a few writing assignments and kept waiting for the downpour. Still not a drop... and mid-day Savanna asked if she could have a friend over, so I said yes. They played in her room and even played tag outside for a while and we didn't so much as have a rain drop.

Larry is really out of commission with his leg injury, and can't even drive, so I found myself making several trips today - to get him a wrap for his leg, to take Jordan to and from work, and finishing up my work. I got a lot done of course, because I'm...home. It feels good to have several projects off my back. Larry has been in bed all day with his leg up and tomorrow Adam has some crutches for him to use to get around. Meanwhile I'm getting some extra exercise waiting on him for everything. (more than usual, lol!)

Right now Tara and I are working on a tag team message for Unstoppable and I am so incredibly excited about it I could screeeeeammmm!!! I think she's just as excited about it. It will be our first one we've ever done together.

I'm very excited about that, and I'm also excited about our Fusion service tomorrow night. I've got such a word to unleash, and music and media that God has given me to enhance it and...I am just beside myself with expectation!!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Bracing for Fay...
what's happenin' today


I'm not worried, as I've been through this a lot of times since I've lived here the past six years. We usually have hurricane parties. I actually look forward to it in some ways. No, not the possible devastation of everything around us (I'm not that sick) but when we have hurricanes on the way and have to stay indoors and stock up and stuff, it's an opportunity for me to work from home. And I get so much done! Usually I can get so much work done (without interruptions) that I have a lot more time to spend with my family. Actually I have quite a number of friends that love hurricane days and have gatherings at their house to wait it out. You'd have to be here to experience it I guess, and I'm sure none of you outside the state of Florida would want to right now.

School is cancelled tomorrow. (Tuesday) The kids are thrilled to be able to sleep in. What a shock to their systems to wake up so early today. I can tell Savanna is fully into middle school mode. She asked me to wake her up 2 hours before she had to be at the bus stop today!!! Why? It takes her that long to do her hair, get dressed, and have 'the look' she wants to have for school. This entails changing shoes several times and all kinds of other stuff. This year she has to leave so much earlier and I said, "hon, you're getting up at this ungodly hour of the morning and you really don't have to..." but she wouldn't hear of it. It was no surprise to me that she came home and slept this afternoon for three hours and only roused when I went in her room and told her I had just cooked steaks on the grill and had one ready for her on a plate in the kitchen. I decided to cook on the grill tonight since I probably won't go outside for quite a while once Fay hits in the morning and we are in our house, riding out the storm.

In other news, Larry strained his achilles tendon. Don't ask how this happened. Ugh. He's in a lot of pain and I'm basically doing everything for him. He's sitting on his chair with his leg elevated and an ice pack. I guess as he's waiting out the storm it's not exactly the worst time for this to happen as he has to stay home anyway. But I'm praying it gets better VERY soon.

And...last but not least, Aaron gave me an incredibly touching shout out on his blog today. It had me in tears...good ones, not sad ones.

Please pray with us that Fay passes over quickly and we can get back to life as usual here in Florida.

I was wrong


So I'm admitting it here, folks. As I'm eating crow, you'll probably find it amusing. It will also give you some insight into mine and Larry's interesting relationship.

Conversation in our car on the way to work one morning when the presidential campaigning first started:

Deanna: You know Lar, although I don't agree with John Edwards' political views at all, I can't help but love him. In fact, I might even vote for him if he actually makes it to be the nominee!

Larry: (incredulous look) WHAT?! You've got to be kidding me, Deanna! What in the world would possess you to do THAT?"

Deanna: (wistfully) Well, I know, I know, but on a personal level, I'm just crazy about the man. I mean, look at their story...awesome marriage...losing their son in a tragic car accident...making it through that...now facing Elizabeth's cancer...and the way he loves her, and is so faithful and caring...and their recent vow renewal...I start crying just thinking about it...

Larry: (clearly irritated with me) Oh, come on babe, have some better sense than that. You can't vote for a political candidate based on the fact that their wife has cancer and they just renewed their vows or whatever. That's ludicrous! Not to mention, if you ask me, I think he's exploiting this whole thing with his wife's cancer...

Deanna: No, no Larry I don't think so. He wouldn't do that. He seems so sincere. Although I don't agree with much of what he says, I love to just hear him talk. I even think his southern voice is soothing. You know I'm a hopeless romantic and John Edwards fits the bill. I think, if he's taking care of Elizabeth like this while she's going through her cancer treatments...would he not take care of our country in the best way he knew how?

Larry: (laughing now, shaking his head at me...) No Deanna, that's crazy. He would not. He's a whack, I'm telling you. You can't base things on how someone makes you feel . What does he believe? You've got to take all that personal and emotional stuff out and just look at the issues.

Deanna: (sadly looking out window while I say...) Hmmmm...yeah, I know his views are off. But when I saw them on Oprah recently, I just came to really love them as people...you know what I mean?

Larry: (very strongly) No, I really don't...

Back to present reality:

I was wrong. **sigh**

According to some reports, Edwards' mistress, Rielle Hunter, has just been hanging on and waiting for Elizabeth to pass away so she can marry John. Is that not one of the most awful things you have ever heard? She was interviewed by Newsweek and didn't hold back at all in sharing what they called her "scornful view" of Mrs. Edwards. She is on record in a Fox News report saying that Mrs. Edwards gives off "negative energy", and in this Newsweek article she's quoted as saying, "Someday the truth will come out about her [Elizabeth]." Excuse me? Can this woman be any more brazen? Elizabeth is on her sick bed right now but I think some of her girlfriends need to catch Hunter in a parking lot and show her a little "negative energy". They need to put the smack down on that woman. I am dead serious about that.

One time when a woman in the church openly propositioned my husband, I went right over to the fifth pew where she sat and said, "don't go near the pastor again or I'll break both your legs. Enjoy the rest of the service." Larry had an absolute cow about it when he found out and and said, "Honey, we can't keep pastoring if you tell people you're going to break their legs...it's just not appropriate!" I said, "Sorry Larry, but you're just going to have to deal with it. She crossed a line with me that you do not cross, and before you're anyone's pastor you're my husband." Today when he tells that story he says, "you know that was back at the beginning of our ministry and my wife was younger and not as mature..." and to that I say, "Shoot! I'd do the same thing now!" So call me immature. If somebody is going to openly make a pass at my husband, they need to make sure they have a good plastic surgeon who specializes in reconstruction. Okay, back to Elizabeth...

Can you imagine what Elizabeth Edwards is going through right now? While she is dying of cancer she finds out about this torrid affair, during a time when she needs to be reassured of her husband's full devotion and support more than ever. Not only is she terminally sick and feeling poorly, but I'm sure she probably has visions of the other woman marrying her husband, moving into her house, sleeping in her bed, and being an evil stepmom to those precious children. Ughhhh...the whole thing just makes me want to puke. And speaking of kids, Edwards has supposedly fathered a child with the mistress. If you think it can't get any worse...it can. Supposely he had been paying Hunter $15,000 a month in "hush money." Can you imagine? "Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive..."

This week's PEOPLE Magazine had an article where Elizabeth's best friend, Hargrave McElroy, was interviewed and said Elizabeth is in "excruciating anguish" right now and feels that she has no choice upon the revelation of this news but to stay. McElroy says, "She couldn't say, 'Well, maybe we'll work through this for years, or maybe we should separate for two years.'" The cancer "forced her to choose whether to move forward." I know she's basically a celebrity of sorts and I don't know her personally but I can't help but feel moved with compassion toward Elizabeth Edwards. I'm serious when I say I'm praying for her.

Well that's it my friends. My naivety is OVER. I don't care if a candidate has a story like The Notebook or A Walk to Remember. I could less about their family life, or even if they have a family. We won't know if what is presented about their family is the truth, so why does it matter? All I care about is - where do they stand on the issues, and how have they voted on them? Get these candidates the heck off of Oprah, and just show us on paper what they've done or haven't done.

This isn't about creating a love story. This isn't about a historic moment that will have us all crying. Let's be real, even "Camelot" wasn't real! We now know that JFK was fornicating with Marilyn Monroe and God knows who else! Has any of it ever really been real?

My heartstrings are cut as far as politics are concerned. Just show me their voting record. I want proof of what they've said yes or no to. Show me how long they have been in politics and what they have accomplished. Show me the bills they have sponsored. I don't need to see their wife, their kids, their dogs, their house, or get their cookie recipe. No, no, no. I'm done. I don't care to see the interior decor of their home and hear how many times a week they eat dinner together. It's all a moot point because we can be sure of absolutely none of it. It can all be so easily spin doctored, fabricated, and airbrushed. We really do have to base things on their political voting record alone and their official position papers on the issues at hand, if we are going to make a truly educated, sound decision.

John Edwards has cured me of any interest or fascination I once had with politician's families.

I was wrong about you John.

You are the deadbeat my husband always said you were.

I. am. done.

Chalk one up for Teeby. He was right.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

I was right.


(Recent photo of Savanna and I at left... can you believe my baby starts middle school tomorrow? Sniff...sniff...)

Amazing day today.

First, I enjoyed my class this morning so much. I've been a Sunday School FREAK as long as I can remember....well, this is my 26th year teaching if that gives you any clue. The more time goes on, the more I love teaching. I never, never, never tire of it! I don't teach out of a quarterly, by the way. Curriculum is a great tool but it would drive me crazy. I'm a student of the Word and I write my own messages, my own teachings. I rarely if ever use any other material for anything. Too many creative ideas flowing through this head of mine to copy somebody else's. Right now I'm on a series I'm calling, "Honest to God" which is about integrity/honesty. I think somebody else (maybe Bill Hybels?) wrote a book with the same title, but I am not getting any material from it, just using that title. Man, we're having some good discussions! By the way, a question I tackled this morning was, "is it ever the appropriate time to lie?" Answer: YES.

WHAT?!

Hold on, don't get your panties all in a bunch. It's in the bible. I'm serious! Yes, there is a time to lie. I'll tell you when at the end of this post, if you don't already know. And I'll back it up with scripture.

On to the rest of the day...worship...off the chain except for a few instrumental issues, but wasn't to be deterred from what God wanted to do come what may, and we got what we came for. (His presence!)

We pressed in...pursued...and we came in to His presence. As I said yesterday, I'm at a whole new place in my walk with the Lord...in worship...in my passion to pursue. Tried by fire, I'll come forth as gold, just like Job! Wait and see!!! Larry preached a dynamic Word today. Excellent. Great altar time. All the visitors from Wednesday night were back, plus our visitors from last Sunday. They all loved it! "This is our new church" is what we heard from all of them. (Yea, God!) One new lady who is really into gift making and interior decorating came up and said to me, "Pastor Deanna, I'm making something special for every woman coming to Unstoppable! I'll get it together and have the gifts ready for you this week!" Wow! WHAT A BLESSING.

We had a choir dinner after service today. We are having such a great time doing this. We've decided to do it this way for a while, for a few reasons... first, because it's fun to eat together and share lunch and fellowship, second because it's very convenient to just eat together right after service and then not have to spend gas money going back and forth between Sunday afternoon and Sunday night. Some people in the choir live as far away as Clearwater and believe me, it's not fun to have to drive back and forth especially with the price of gas. We had a fantastic rehearsal. I was so pleased...got a new song for this Sunday AM and a dynamic new soloist who will make their debut Sunday. Can't wait! (the one today wasn't bad either! Seriously, he did an incredible job.) We also passed out the Christmas music and CD's today. Christmas! Did I just say CHRISTMAS!? Yikes, it's only four months away...

Stopped by to see Tom and Cathy's new place again this afternoon. It's reaaaallly nice. I love it!!! So happy for them. They deserve it.

Okay, to end this post, I'll answer the question...is it ever acceptable to lie?

Answer: as a general rule NO. However, there are very, very rare times where God's higher law is involved, such as with the saving of lives that it IS okay to lie.

One story we find about this is in Exodus 1. Pharaoh ordered the Hebrew mid-wives who always helped women deliver their babies to kill the baby boys. We read this in Exodus 1:16-19 "When you help the Hebrew women in childbirth and observe them on the delivery stool, if it is a boy, kill him; but if it is a girl, let her live."The midwives, however, feared God and did not do what the king of Egypt had told them to do; they let the boys live.Then the king of Egypt summoned the midwives and asked them, "Why have you done this? Why have you let the boys live?"The midwives answered Pharaoh, "Hebrew women are not like Egyptian women; they are vigorous and give birth before the midwives arrive."

Were the mid-wives honest? No… they lied. But it was for a righteous cause. Sort of like Oscar Schindler, portrayed in the movie Schindler's list, who rescued the Jews. These midwives were standing up for God's higher law, to the Hitler of their day...the Sadaam Hussein, the Osama Bin Laden of their time. These people were basically terrorists intent upon murdering all the boy children in Israel. The midwives lied to preserve these precious babies lives.

We see how the Lord looks upon a lie in this situation from reading about His reaction. Exodus 1:20-21 says, “So God was kind to the midwives and the people increased and became even more numerous."

The midwives were acting in the fear of the Lord, and God increased them for their righteous actions. When people tell a lie and it is for an unrighteous reason, (which is in the case of 99.9% of lies) it is only to cover themselves - their sin - their mistake. However, if a lie is told to preserve lives or keep God's higher law, it is because you fear THE LORD, not what could happen to you.

Today the title of my post is, "I was right." What was I right about? That we were going to have an EXCELLENT day in the house at Northside.

Tomorrow the title of my post will be, "I was wrong." Come back to see what about. I promise, it will be an interesting read!

This is the day that the Lord has made...


Sunday comes every week. Isn't it amazing? For us pastors, we REALLY realize just how quick Sunday and Wednesday both come. They never stop, they just keep on 'comin.

I'm so ready for today. I have been saturated in worship all week long...my heart is prepared for whatever God wants to do.

Last night I was reading Streams in the Desert and there were some great points about God doing what He said he would do. You know, the whole, "if He can move my mountain, He can move your mountain," thing. In my life coaching class yesterday, one of my ladies brought up the fact that she knows the promises of God "academically" as she called it, but is having a hard time believing them in her heart when she sees her life circumstances right now. It seems like a lot of people are eating out of that box of Cheerios at this time. I talked about saturating ourselves in God's presence, and also the power of agreement with a friend, and borrowing a little of their faith when yours seems low. That has been extremely key to me in my life right now.

Coming home from class and reading Streams in the Desert reinforced to me the importance of standing on the Word. Listen to this excerpt:

"Do as thou hast said, that thy name may be magnified forever" (1 Chron. 17:23-24).

Every promise of Scripture is a writing of God, which may be pleaded before Him with this reasonable request: "Do as Thou hast said." The Creator will not cheat His creature who depends upon His truth; and far more, the Heavenly Father will not break His word to His own child.

I love that! The Creator will not cheat His creature who depends upon His truth! That's me! That's you! He will not break His Word. We can count on it. As the song says, "I Have to Believe", but the thing is, I can believe knowing that He will not lie, He will not cheat, He will keep His promise to me. Because He's God! Hope does not disappoint. He's hope!

I really felt apprehensive about leading my life coaching class yesterday with the way I've been feeling. But really, it went great. The Lord empowered me as He always does, and besides that, it was fantastic to focus on other people's issues. I love my ladies so much! Also, I'm evening out more...getting more in balance and mornings are slightly better each day.

Speaking of mornings, this morning we're going to a new level in worship. I feel it, I know it, I sense it... did I mention that?

I might blog my thoughts again this afternoon or tonight with an update from service...or I might just crash for the night with the Teeb. I am really tired from A LOT of work yesterday. I worked pretty much tirelessly on Saturday because I did take off on "fun Friday" and did absolutely no church stuff and was just with my family. Teeb and I went on a date to Carrabbas and used a gift certficate I got for my b'day. And we hung out with Savanna, as the boys worked most of the day. The price I pay for fully taking my day off is always working like a crazy woman on Saturday, but the time with my family is much more important and worth whatever to do it.

All that to say -- I'm definitely getting a nap today after morning worship, choir lunch and rehearsal. A snuggle and snooze is absolutely on my daytimer.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Anyway

Tara felt led to send this video to some of us a few days ago...it's "Anyway" by Martina McBride. I'm going to post it here again for those who haven't seen it. After you watch it please come back to see the rest of what I have to say, below! :-)


Yesterday I just watched this video again and again and cried...and let it sink into my spirit. It's anointed. I found out through this article online that it's based upon the poem by Mother Teresa. Martina co-wrote the phenomenal song, being inspired by these words:


ANYWAY

by Mother Teresa

People are unreasonable, illogical and self-centered.
Love them anyway!
If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives.
Do good anyway!
If you are successful, you will win false friends and enemies.
Succeed anyway!
The good you do will be forgotten tomorrow.
Do good anyway!
Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable.
Be honest and frank anyway!
What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight.
Build anyway!
People really need help but may attack you if you help them.
Help them anyway!
Give the world the best you have and you’ll get kicked in the teeth.
Give the world the best you’ve got anyway!

Soaking


Lately I have just needed to soak in worship.

Ever been there? It's a place spiritually and emotionally when you can't get by on the normal amount of God's presence. Life has become abnormal for some reason, so the level of dependence on Him is also more than normal. Hopefully that abnormality brings you to a different place in your walk where you never want to go back to where you were again.

I've said it before about stuff I've gone through in the past and I'll say it again... I've gone through too much hell in my life to stay at the same level!! I believe if you go through hell you better get a payback for it. The devil is supposed to give you back seven times whatever he stole - so don't ever settle for going through hell for nothing. Ever. Demand the payback! Demand the next level! When I go through something, I just keep saying to the enemy, "thank you, thank you, thanks for my next level! Couldn't have done it withoutcha!"

I've been saturating myself in worship constantly, unless I'm just sitting in silence listening for Him. I was reading a quote by Tommy Tenney the other day where he said, "Some forms of worship only release their sweetest fragrance to God when offered from the fires of trial and adversity." I'm learning that. I'm telling you, I'm at a new place in worship than I've ever been. It's kind of scary to get me at a piano right now, because I don't know how to stop or at least I don't want to. The last thing I want to do is shut off the music whether I'm listening to somebody else or singing it myself. And I don't care if anybody's with me or not. In fact it's most precious when I'm alone. The presence of God is so soothing. Here's how I would describe it in my life right now...

Have you ever burned your finger while cooking? You probably have quite a few times just like I have. When you do that, if you stand there and hold your finger under the faucet with cold water, it's a great relief...for as long as you keep it there. But as soon as you take your finger away from the water, it hurts like crazy. Worship to me right now is like that water. My spirit is the burned finger, and I'm placing myself under the faucet every moment I get. When I get a burned finger in the natural, I get tired of standing in my kitchen at the sink and after a little bit, I give up and let my finger hurt while I go on to something else. However, right now I'm not getting my spirit out from under the faucet!! I don't care if I have to let everything else go. I really don't. I am just at a place where I don't care because I just need the relief that the spirit of God brings. I just need the healing that comes from worship. So I stand there, sit there, lay there and listen...repeatedly. ..and I do mean hundreds of times, and let it wash over me.

I've also been spontaneously singing and writing worship songs in the secret place with God, just singing my prayers to Him. I just wrote a new worship song called, "Compassionate God". I might share it and then again I might save it for just for He and I. :-)

Friends have been so faithful to send me songs and say, "the Lord told me you need to listen to this now..." Some of the songs I knew already, and others like "Part the Waters Lord" and "Bless Your Name" that LaDonna sent me, I had never heard. (Both of the songs I just mentioned are by Selah. Click the links to go listen to them.)

There are many songs that I've continuously played the past few weeks and I'd like to share them with any of you who are going through something. Here's a list of the top ones I'm been soaking in, as well as the two above, with links:

I Have to Believe by Rita Springer (lost count a long time ago at how many times I've played it..hundreds...I also go to her Myspace page and just listen to all four songs repeatedly and soak in them for hours.)

Healer by Planetshakers (doing this one with the church now too...it's become a fav quickly)

For Every Mountain by Karen Wheaton (Tara felt the Lord speak to her to tell me the other day to go back and listen to this one...I did and wow, forgot just how powerful it is. )

Believe by Kirk Franklin (As crazy as I am about Kirk -- yes, I'm a HUGE fan -- somehow this song escaped me until now. I love it. It's going on my Mp3 so I can bike to it.)

Also go to Tara's blog where she dedicated a song to me and some other women friends in ministry who are going through some stuff. The song is, Do It Anyway by Martina McBride. I cried... and said, "yes, Lord, I'll do it anyway." Let me tell you friends, this is a prophetic word from Martina McBride, and I am SERIOUS.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Give God the Glory ~ Part II


I'm back, with the next part of this amazing story. It all ties together, to illustrate the goodness and faithfulness of God, and the power of giving.

In November, the Assemblies of God Women in Ministry department will be hosting an awesome conference, Conversations, in Phoenix, AZ. I have attended the A/G Women in Ministry Conferences since they had the first one in Springfield, MO in 2002. It was life changing for me. As a matter of fact, Pastor Tara Sloan and I went to it together, and we will never forget it. Things happened there that set our lives on a new course. Two years ago, I went to the regional conference at Valley Forge. (My alma mater!) Again, it was so awesome...unforgettable.

I was so excited about Conversations when I got the information in the mail, and even more so when Beth Grant (leader for the national AGWIM) contacted me personally and asked me to be a small group leader at Conversations. What an honor. But, unfortunately, the current financial picture made it impossible for me to go this year. I was sad, because I cannot even tell you how much I was looking forward to it.

I do have to be honest with you, it was a real bummer, however, compared to all else that was going wrong the past few months, it was small. Please don't think I stayed home boo-hooing and had a temper tantrum over staying home from Conversations... (I'm not that spoiled or shallow!) rather, it was just another thing to chalk up in a long list of recent disappointments. So many larger things were pressing down on me, I just set it aside as an unfortunate reality and went on.

Beth contacted me again about leading the small group and I had to tell her that regretfully I wouldn't be there this year. She was very gracious and understood.

Then last Thursday an unexpected miracle came. Remember I told you I actually got out of bed and rode my bike because something had me so excited? Well, I also told you I couldn't tell you what it was because the person made me promise not to. Well here's the deal. I asked them if I could share a testimony of God's goodness in this situation, they said, "yes, absolutely just don't reveal my name." So here we go...

Someone contacted me and asked if I was attending Conversations. I said no. They subsequently told me that I would be going, because they were paying my entire way to go!! They are covering my airfare, hotel, registration, the whole thing! And you know what they said to me? "Deanna, you are a proponent for women in ministry and sometimes we need other people to be a proponent for us. So I'm being that for you right now..." and I realized...

I have spent so much of my time both last year and this year, giving of my resources and imploring the people of God to give whatever they could to see women attend who couldn't otherwise afford to come to Unstoppable. This is my passion! It has absolutely made my day, to contact a woman and say, "I have a scholarship for you to come to Unstoppable" and hear the joy come into their voice. Even better is to see them at the altar, renewed --and in some cases restored when they were on the brink of a meltdown. Some of them were ready to resign, but what they experienced at Unstoppable helped them get back up again from their hurt and pain and stay at their place of ministry. When asking for scholarships for others, I don't even care if people think I'm begging, because honestly...I will beg to help other women in ministry. They're worth it.

God knows that, and just like He blessed the precious man in my church this past week with a scholarship - directly related to his giving, so now God has also blessed me with a scholarship! I believe it too is a result of sowing and reaping. Glory to God! Let me say, although I can't reveal this person's name or identifying details I just want you to know how miraculous our God is...I do not hang out with this person and never have. We aren't even close. We never talk. I had closed the door on the possibility of going to Conversations and had considered it a dead issue. But God spoke to somebody I'm not even in close relationship with to contact me and pay my way! IS THAT CRAZY AWESOME, OR WHAT???!!!!!!!!

I can't even tell you how much I need that conference. Well, you probably do realize it if you've read my blogs for the past few weeks. I have been in a difficult place in my life and ministry. I need it. I seriously need it. God knew and He spoke to somebody about it.

And, it gets even better!!! Our best friends in ministry, Randy & Dawn Visconti, pastor a church in Mesa, AZ. Their church is just a hop, skip and jump from Phoenix. (And no, they have absolutely nothing to do with paying my way nor did they know about it til' I told them and they were shocked!) Dawn is going to go to the conference as well, and.......guess what..........

Larry's going with me too!! Being that he's going to preach while we're there, his honorarium will cover his airfare to go with me. So, not only am I going to go to Conversations, but we will stay another few days to visit with our friends and minister at the church there. In addition to me getting away to be at Conversations, it will also be a little getaway with my husband and we haven't been away together for a while. So, this is just THE BEST news I've gotten in, a long time.

I didn't expect it nor ask for it in the least, but I needed this news.

I needed this miracle.

God knew. He cares. Even when we've given up, He's still working on stuff for us.

Even when we think something is just an unfortunate reality, He takes it and makes it a beautiful opportunity to show His love and care!